Hands-on with the Kobo Vox e-reader (video)

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The Kobo Vox e-reader went on sale Friday, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one at the VentureBeat offices. While the word “e-reader” often evokes images of the iPad or the Kindle Fire, (there are some other, less popular Android tablets out there, too), Kobo general manager, Matthew Welch, says that the Kobo is “For readers, of readers, and about readers.”

This last fact bears repeating: The Kobo Vox is a reader. “Amazon and Apple can fight the tablet wars,” says Welch.

The Android-powered device does a lot of other things, but it’s a product with books, and the needs of readers, in mind. It comes with access to 1 million free books in the Kobo store, allows viewers to choose from different fonts, and boasts a screen that is highly readable, even in direct sunlight.

Kobo is a global e-book retailer that has distribution partnerships with some of the top brick-and-mortar booksellers across the world, such as W.H. Smith in the UK, and Fnac in France. Kobo books are available in a wide variety of languages, and can be accessed across devices. The Kobo Vox is on sale for $199, which is cost competitive with the new Kindle Fire, and less than half the price of the entry-level iPad. While Apple has iBooks, and Amazon provides access to its vast catalog of print content, and now streaming video with the Kindle Fire, neither offers anywhere near the number of free books as the Vox.

Kobo was launched in Dec. 2009, and has received $66 million in funding from Indigo Books and others. The first Kobo reader was released in July of 2010.

We’ve done head-to-head reviews of the Kobo, iPad and Kindle, and you can see the Kobo Vox in action in the video above.